Power and Pain…
The call came in early in the morning from Don Mulford who was the International Host Committee, President that year. My late husband Merritt Smalley and I were on the board of directors for many years. Don wanted to reserve the Mariner II for the following Friday afternoon. The Ambassador from Iran wanted to take the Shah’s wife; Farrah and their children on the bay for lunch and a four hour boat ride. I asked for the deposit and Don assured me the Shah was good for it. I reminded him that the Shah was a dictator and sometimes their financial security can shift to non existent. I would be happy to send my representative over to San Francisco to the Iranian Embassy to pick up a check. Don said not to worry he would have his office send over a check, if I insisted on one. I did and he did. I found out years later that his office was stiffed so my call was a just one.
The Secret Service contacted me and asked for a list of my crew and purveyors that I would be using to supply food, booze etc.. They needed the list so they could run a security check on them. They also informed me that the Navy Seals would be sending divers over to check the bottom of the vessel for bombs. I neglected to inform my son and his girl friend, Marsha about the impending inspection. After a night of making the rounds of the Irish Bars in Jack London Square they returned to the boat tipsy and titillated. They proceeded to make passionate love in the Master Stateroom. Sound travels on the water like an echo chamber. David and Marsha thought they heard muffled sounds of giggles. The next morning they were told of the divers inspection of the bottom of the boat. They were so embarrassed that when the divers met the vessel in San Francisco at Gas House Cove to re- inspect the bottom of the vessel the red-faced lovers stayed in the galley and didn’t come top side.
The Coast Guard assigned a small Cutter to escort the Mariner II and a Helicopter to fly overhead as we made our cruise around the bay. It was all very impressive. I took full advantage of all this Might and Power to pull rank on the Red and White Fleet. They enjoyed running their big tourist vessels across our bow and forcing us to contend with their wake. Sending our passengers and their drinks spilling. A fellow I went to school with Managed the Red and White Fleet at that time. Bobby Van Amberg and I had a friendly rivalry. When I spied a Red and White fleet vessel approaching our port, I asked the Secret Service Agent on board the Mariner II if he was in contact with the pilot of the helicopter. He replied that he was. I asked if he would request the Red and White Fleet vessel to Stand Down, so we could cross his bow. As he did so, I walked to the bow of the Mariner II and as the Big Red and White vessel shoved its engines in neutral I raised my right hand and saluted the Captain with a big Swan. The next day I received a message from Bobby that his Capt. was highly amused by the unorthodox salute. I am sure he was not as gleeful as I was in sending it. Ahh the perks of Power.
The Shah’s family arrived and proceeded to seek their own level of comfort aboard the Mariner II. The Shah’s wife and her entourage settled in the main salon. The Ambassador chatted with me on the flying bridge as I proceeded to tell him my passion for Iranian Caviar. Gushing unashamedly, I managed to get a promise of a case of Caviar from his Embassy. I quickly committed a crew member to pick up the Caviar the next day in San Francisco from the Embassy. A bird in the hand, or in this case a full case of Caviar needed to be secured. A time was agreed upon. And I introduced the Crew member that would collect it. My lust for Iranian Caviar was so great I didn’t feel one pang of guilt or shame for my brashness.
I was chatting on the Aft deck with a Secret Service Agent when the Shah’s youngest daughter, who was about six years old, ran up to the Agent and kicked him painfully in the shin. She smiled wickedly and trotted off. He winced and gritted his teeth. He told me she was in the habit of abusing those around her and seem to know they were helpless to do anything about it. I told him that I had five children and had a way with children. I followed her up to the bow of the boat and grasped her hand bending her little finger back as I spoke to her. I informed her that I was the ruler on this boat just as her Father was the ruler of Iran. And if she did not stop running on my boat’s decks and misbehaving, I would throw her overboard to the sharks. Then I ask her if she thought any of the Agents that she had treated so badly would risk their lives to save her. She stopped struggling with the pain I was subjecting her finger to, long enough to glace over at the Agent who was now rubbing his sore leg. I released her hand and she looked me in the eye and said in perfect English, with an American accent: “Okay! Deal”! We had no further problem with her the rest of the cruise. The Agent ask me what my secret of raising children was and I replied;
“A little Pain and lots of Power”.
The following day we received a call from the Embassy asking for a complete list of all crew members that had been on board.
They each received a gold coin with the Shah’s picture on it with a personally addressed thank you note. Yes, of course I received the Caviar the next day.
In later years we were to take the Shaw’s oldest son, who was being trained by our American Air Force to be a pilot, on two other cruises. Each time we went through the same security procedure. I guess it cost you and I tax payer at least $25,000. each time that young man wanted to cruise San Francisco Bay with a few of his buddies.
Ahhh the perks of Power….